How Much Time Does Social Media Take

In many cases, the social media activities for a small or medium sized business fall to the person who has the time and/or inclination to use it on behalf of the business. There’s usually no formal training, no policy, no content guidelines, and no real thought to strategy and long term engagement. It just happens.

Thrown onto the already overloaded to-do list of the office manager or receptionist, or delegated the inexperienced college intern, the young Twitter-crazy relative of someone in the office, or even the next-door neighbor’s high school student! Don’t laugh. We’ve heard of all of these scenarios.

So when a business owner is ready to bring in a dedicated social media agent to represent the voice of the company and support their marketing, they need to as themselves how much time it will take for the “do-ing” of social media.

A good way to answer that question is to think about the categories of participation.  A blog post back in late 2010 by Aliza Sherman over at Gigaom laid these out succinctly.  Pulling from an even earlier diagram by Beth Kanter from 2008, Ms. Sherman lays out the time, and the tools, it takes to implement social media.

Quickly note the categories of what you’re doing and the estimated time spent:

  • Listen  [15 minutes a day]
  • Promote  [20 minutes a day]
  • Participate  [30 minutes a day]
  • Publish Content  [3 - 5 hours a week]
  • Build Community  [5 - 10 hours a week]

Ms. Sherman further states:

“Participating — even at a cursory level of engagement — really takes more time and consideration even though useful tools are also there. The tools may make it easier for us to monitor and participate in our social media channels, but we are now monitoring and participating in many more channels than before.”

social media management

 Note the different levels of low and high engagement for networks like Facebook and Twitter. You need to consider the level you want to participate at based on your objectives and available resources.

Business owners can now start to think about the investment they’ll make, the quality of the work to expect, and the results they want to measure.